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Men Not Going to College: Are Video Games to Blame?

It seems as though video games are blamed for lot of things in our society. Violence, sexism, lack of motivation, social isolation… the list goes on, according to multitudes of research over the years, although none of it has ever been proven as totally conclusive. Here is a new hypothesis. As college enrollment drops, the majority of students enrolling and completing degrees are women, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. New research on the reason for the imbalance cites men who say they don't consider a degree a good return on their investment, yet some researchers are making claims that video games and a lack of father figures are other factors as well.

Social Tokens Now Part of Online Gaming

With the video game industry reportedly now bigger than sports and movies combined, everyone from investors to A-list actors are jumping on the gaming bandwagon. Its social impact has immeasurable consequences, and even eclipses music as the most important aspect of youth culture. Gaming is all about connection: people who cannot come together in person are connecting through games. 


One hot new area that’s garnering the attention of investors, gamers, parents and fans alike is social tokens, a cryptocurrency specific to a person or brand. In the last six months, several gamers, streamers and Esports organizations have successfully launched their own social tokens in order to take the control of fan relationships away from big tech platforms. They’re experimenting with new forms of fan interactions and monetization opportunities with crypto. For example, Twitch streamer Alliestrasza is hosting Hearthstone tournaments with the winners receiving her ALLIE Coin, while StarCraft II Pro Player and variety streamer Vibe is running daily tournaments where gamers can “double their winnings” in tokens. Streaming house DownToQuest offers a token for fans to purchase physical merchandise, often charging less in coin value than its equivalent in US Dollars. While it's still early days, several gamers/streamers are already earning more than $10,000 per month via their social tokens. Global Esports organizations like Gen G. are also getting into the mix; launching their own social token to strengthen their relationship with fans, allowing them to directly engage their favorite teams and players, and become owners in their new virtual economies. If you have a young gaming fan at your house, social tokens is definitely a term to know and keep in mind.

Schools Discover the Impact of Esports

Still think esports teams in schools are just a fad? That‘s what many parents and administrators thought in one district in Texas, until Chief Technology Officer Kyle Berger explained that 250 colleges are giving full-ride scholarships to players. Berger points out that playing esports is about strategy, teamwork, and other high-level skills that every school should want to foster in their students.

Schools Tap Students’ Enthusiasm for Video Games

Ninety percent of 13- to 17-year-olds play video games, data shows -- a trend that some schools are using to build student interest in computer science and STEM. In a Texas school district, students hone their skills by developing an "edutainment game," and teachers also use video games to teach soft skills as well as to further equity and inclusion goals.

Sports Scientists Take on Esports

Gaming team Fnatic is working with sports scientists to determine how sleep and stress affect players' performance. Researchers will also examine the role of caffeine, alcohol and cortisol levels, with Fnatic CEO Sam Matthews noting that as esports becomes fiercely competitive, "you're always looking at edges that you can get, whether it's hardware, training, or psychology." As more and more schools offer esports teams, esports will be the subject of even more research and how it affects students in and out of the classroom.

A Script for Talking to Kids About Online Predators

No one wants to imagine that a predator will contact your child. But it's also something we need to prep our kids for if they're going to be online. How do you start that conversation? Check out this list of conversation starters and possible answers to kid’s questions. For example:

Ask your teen: What should you do if someone you don't know contacts you online?

Best answers:

  • I wouldn't respond to them at all. 
  • If they were persistent, I'd type, "I don't want to talk to you. Do not contact me again." 
  • If they continued, I'd block them and report their user information and wouldn't respond anymore.

Roblox Struggles to Contain Inappropriate Content

Popular gaming platform Roblox is under scrutiny over so-called "condo games" that could expose young users to naked figures, simulated sex and crude language. Operators of Roblox say the platform, which enables users to program their own games and play games created by others, is used by at least half of American kids under age 16. Roblox is often played on a smartphone, tablet or laptop, and enables kids to create themselves as virtual characters and explore different environments, pretend they are superheroes, raise pets and even invent their own games. Some of these games, according to an article published in Fast Company, are written in computer code that bypasses Roblox's child safety filters (known as “condo games”) and could expose children to inappropriate images and scenarios in the game.


Online Gaming and Literacy: A New Study Reveals a Link

A study by the National Literacy Trust in the UK challenges stereotypes about young gamers. The new research finds that there are many benefits students get from playing video games . 2 in 5 gamers reporting being motivated to read and look up news sources after playing. About 5,000 players aged 11 to 16 were included in the study, which also found that students improved their emotional well-being and developed empathy in the process of playing games.

Kids and the Pandemic: Digital Device Use Continues to Rise

Kidsay, a market research firm specializing in brand engagement for kids, tweens and teens, has a new report entitled Devices and Digital Engagement: The Impact of COVID-19 (So Far) on Device Use of Kids, Tweens and Teens that you can access for free if you sign up. Some takeaways include that smartphone use (and ownership) is on the rise, especially in the 5-to-7-year-old demographic and that 74% of tweens and teens say that they are using their favorite devices more often during COVID that they were pre-COVID. Predictions for the future in the report include: eSports will continue to grow its youth base, animation will become even more prominent in kid-centered content (since it does not require filming on location the way live action does), and TikTok and Instagram will continue to rise since they deliver the connection and content kids seek. Kidsay also says that in the near term, kids will continue to have an unprecedented amount of free time, causing increased parental concern for the amount of time they spend on their devices.

Ready for a Pandemic Gaming Party?

Party Place is a new feature on Roblox being beta tested that allows kids to create private, mini-social networks exclusively with friends to chat, hang out, and plan which games to play. The venue itself doesn’t offer any activities or games, but rather serves as a private place for Roblox users to gather — for example, for a virtual birthday party, a remote learning activity with classmates, for virtual playdates, or anything else. From Party Place, the group can chat and hang out as they decide which Roblox game they plan to play next.

For today’s younger players, platforms like Fortnite and Roblox are becoming their own version of a social network. The kids don’t just go online to play. They socialize, chat and hang out with a mix of real-life friends and virtual ones, blurring the lines between online and offline in ways that traditional social networks, like Facebook, do not. Of course this also opens up another avenue for cyberbullying, so as with all forms of social media be sure to monitor for the symptoms that your child may be a target.